James W. Dye Jr.
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After Jimmy was buried, the Dyes needed to escape the ghosts of local memories tied to their son. They decided to leave Mount Ephraim and move to the Miami, Florida area in 1950 to live out the rest of their days. While they were told that Jimmy died by execution at the hands of the Japanese, his parents would never learn the truly horrific details about their son’s death. Kathryn passed away in December 1988 due to complications from Alzheimer’s Disease and James Sr. passed in January 1990. It wasn’t until 55 years after Jimmy was killed, that transcripts from the war crime trials against Japan became declassified. Ronnie and his family would however, discover the true atrocities that took place on Chichi Jima.
|Display at AHS|
Jimmy is honored at the Patriot’s Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Here, his name is listed on the Combat Aircrew Roll of Honor aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown. Audubon High School's Class of 1943 also honored their former classmate at Murray-Troutt American Legion Post #20 in Audubon on February 14, 2008. They dedicated a plaque and sign which now hang in the rotunda of Audubon High School. Each year, Dye is remembered at the Memorial Day services in Mount Ephraim at Veterans Triangle on Davis Avenue. You can find his name etched on the World War II memorial.
One final note of interest. There was an airmen downed over Chichi Jima, that evaded capture and survived. This person was former United States President, George H. W. Bush. Lieutenant Bush was a pilot with Torpedo Squadron 51. He was on a bombing mission to the Mount Yoake radio facility on September 2, 1944. The very same place that Jimmy Dye would later be present at just prior to his execution. While approaching the island, Bush’s TBM Avenger was shot down by anti-aircraft fire just offshore. His two crew mates bailed out of the plane but were never heard from again and presumed dead. Bush would be rescued by Navy submarine USS Finback.
While this story focuses on the life and death of Jimmy Dye, there were several airmen who suffered the same fate as he did. To learn more about all of these men, I highly recommend the novel mentioned in the beginning of this story, “Flyboys: A True Story of Courage” by James Bradley as well as the book, "Sorties Into Hell: The Hidden War on Chichi Jima" by Chester G. Hearn.
May their sacrifice never be forgotten.